THE official decision to withhold medical insurance for home births has come under fire as an unjustified step not supported by international evidence, a Liberal MP and former obstetrician, Andrew Laming, says.
Dr Laming said the call by state and federal health ministers for more data on the safety of home birth before providing medical indemnity was ''ridiculous'', given the relative safety and likely low cost of any government subsidies that might be needed.
He said several big international studies had made it clear that home birth was as safe as hospital birth in low-risk cases, which represented 90 to 95 per cent of births.
... The ''mother of all rallies'' drew 2000 home-birth supporters to Parliament from all over Australia who braved drenching rain ...
Labor senator Claire Moore, chairwoman of the Senate's Community Affairs committee, defended the decision by the health ministers last Friday to exempt home births from provisions that would have outlawed the procedure for two years while a ''quality and safety framework'' was developed.
Senator Moore said ''everybody talks about safety'', and the Government wanted to get it right for home birth.
The federal legislation to extend medical indemnity to private midwives, but not for home birth, is now before Parliament but is not expected to be opposed by the Coalition despite the strong support for women to be able to choose the option of home birth provided by Dr Laming and other Liberals.
... The protesters included Michelle Marazakis, from Melbourne, who decided on a home birth after suffering painful obstetric intervention when she had her first baby, a daughter, Mikaela, in a public hospital.
Ms Marazakis said she was subjected to ''high intervention'' during delivery - drugs to induce labour, then a forceps delivery.
For her second delivery, she chose a midwife-attended, deep-immersion delivery at home ...
''It was fantastic. It was safe … there were no drugs and no intervention.
''I had a home birth baby because I knew it was the safest way,'' Ms Marazakis said.
Suzanne Clutterbuck, 87, came from Middle Dural in Sydney because two of her four daughters had given birth at her home.
Doctors were often too busy to spend time with women in labour and tended to intervene because they could not spare the time to let nature take its course, Mrs Clutterbuck said.
Dr Sarah Buckley, a GP who had her four children by home birth and has written books on the subject, said: ''Home birth is the safe choice.''